By Kim Bolan, Vancouver Sun
SURREY — While Surrey was hit with another drive-by shooting Sunday, the city’s top cop highlighted the efforts made in 2015 to combat a violent gang conflict.
RCMP Chief Supt. Bill Fordy said in his year-end message that murder rates, property crime and fatal collisions are all down in 2015.
“Unfortunately, the city was plagued with a number of shootings related to the drug trade this year, driving our violent crime rate,” Fordy said.
“Our investigative teams, supported by the Combined Forces Special Enforcement Unit, have made significant headway in disrupting this drug activity and the related violence.”
Fordy said almost 800 arrests were made related to the conflict and 290 charges have been laid.
One of the successes was the arrest on Dec. 17 of Shakiel Basra, who’s alleged to be involved in the violence and had been on the run for three months.
And the first person charged in connection with the conflict, Arman Dhatt, pleaded guilty in Surrey Provincial Court Dec. 18 to a series of drug and firearms charges.
The 19-year-old was sentenced to four years minus credit for pre-trial time served, for a net sentence of just under three years.
But the shootings have continued through December.
About 1 a.m. Sunday, a house in the 9100-block of 138 A Street was struck by several bullets as its residents slept.
No one has been arrested and the investigation continues.
On Dec. 9 about 2:30 a.m., shots were fired at a house in the 7800-block of 132nd Street, breaking windows. No one was hurt.
On Dec. 8, a black Audi 07 was seen leaving the scene of a shooting near the 12700-block 37B Avenue in Newton about 11:40 a.m.
Mounties said the shooting was targeted and was linked to the continuing conflict. No one has been charged.
Between March and Dec. 27, there were 56 shootings. The violence led to public concern and calls to action by politicians.
And the gunplay was a focus for local candidates in October’s federal election, with all three major parties promising more police officers for Surrey.
Surrey-Whalley NDP MLA Bruce Ralston said Monday that not enough is being done to combat the gun violence.
“The ongoing unchecked shooting spree is a huge concern for Surrey citizens,” Ralston said. “Research from other cities shows better and more effective police response, both short and long term, is possible.”
Fordy said Surrey RCMP has added 75 new officers to its ranks since last May when the federal government approved 100 additional officers for Surrey.
“In addition, 31 municipal employees were added to support our operation,” Fordy said. “The growth of our detachment has allowed us to enhance our service delivery, particularly with respect to our uniformed first responders in general duty and youth policing.”
Fordy said the RCMP is working with Surrey residents and partner agencies on a number of outreach programs to improve public safety.
“While enforcement is a key part of policing, public safety does not improve simply by making arrests,” Fordy said.